[Foundation-l] Fundraiser update

Robert Rohde rarohde at gmail.com
Thu Jan 8 04:44:13 UTC 2009

On Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 3:15 PM, Mathias Schindler
<mathias.schindler at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 11:57 PM, Brian <Brian.Mingus at colorado.edu> wrote:
>> I challenge you to find 1% as many negative blog posts regarding the
>> fundraiser as there are positive comments left by donors.
> Apart from that interesting debate between you and geni, I had the
> personal impression that this year's fundraising drive created a bit
> more negative responses for example in the OTRS (both relative and
> absolute) than last year's. I don't have numbers to prove it, so it
> remains an anecdote.

My anecdotal opinion is exactly the opposite.  My impression, based
mostly on comments left at either enwiki, meta, or the public mailing
lists, is that this years' drive was substantially less negatively
recieved than last years.  That impression may be skewed toward
community member (rather than reader) reactions based on my source

While anecdotal, I'd suggest several factors that would favor a less
negative reaction to this drive:

Last year was the very first year with a boxy banner (rather than a
one or two line text announcement).

The messaging in the 2007 drive was poor (in my opinion).  The drive
highlighted things like bringing information to kids in Africa, and
said little about how donations improved the online encyclopedia.  I
can recall numerous examples of people saying they supported Wikipedia
but didn't want to see money spent towards those far flung third world
projects when there was so much still to do with the website.  I don't
recall seeing any reaction like that towards the 2008 drive.

Last year was the first time a drive had ever exceeded 40 days in
length, and with it running to nearly 80 days it really seemed to drag
on.  This year was also well over 40 days, but I think the negative
reaction this time was reduced by not having it be the first long

This year, from the beginning, the presentation generally seemed to be
accepted as much more professional. In 2007 the drive started in a
very ad hoc manner with an ugly pink box and scrolling marquee that
many people hated (not to mention anecdotal reports that the
javascript scrolling banner crashed some older browsers).  Last year
there were very active discussions, supported by some admins, for
enwiki to outright block the banner due to how distasteful and
unproffessional many found people it.  I don't think the reaction to
this year's drive ever rose to that level of vitriol.

The only factors that really weighed against this year's drive seemed
to be that the banner was too big and too bold in many people's
opinion (myself included), and that it was hard to comletely banish.
I'd renew my call for the height of the banner to be decreased 30%
next year.  However, my anecdotal opinion is that those factors didn't
raise people's frustrations as much as in 2007.

Since we now seem to have three different opinions on how this drive
was recieved, I'd love to see if anyone can figure out a way to
quantify the reaction more directly.

Ultimately though, the one objective measure I can point to is money.
If Alexa is to be believed, the traffic to Wikimedia sites year over
year has decreased about 10% while the income raised from small donors
more than doubled (despite harsher economic conditions and fewer days
in this drive as well).  So whatever the overall reaction, people were
ultimately more willing to give us money this year than last year.  At
least at some level that suggests this year's drive was significantly
better recieved than last years.

-Robert Rohde

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